Hypersonic Weapons

Eagle1

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Hypersonic weapons, by definition, travel five or more times than the speed of sound.

Hypersonic cruise missiles which are powered by scramjet are restricted to less than 100,000 feet.
Hypersonic glide vehicles on the other hand, can travel higher.

In comparison to a ballistic i.e. parabolic trajectory, a hypersonic vehicle is much more agile, hence much more difficult to intercept.

As per the latest intelligence estimates, Russia and China lead in hypersonic weapon development, trailed by the United States. and France.
 

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DARPA seeks to develop a ground-launched hypersonic weapon to attack time-sensitive relocatable targets
Industry asked to integrate hypersonic weapon, propulsion, and control to enable ground forces to attack mobile ballistic missiles before they launch.
Author John Keller
08 June, 2019

View attachment 7695

U.S. military researchers are asking industry to find a way to attack enemy time-sensitive relocatable targets like mobile ballistic missiles with hypersonic ground-launched rocket-propelled smart munitions that can penetrate modern air defense systems.

Officials of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., issued a solicitation Wednesday for the Operational Fires (OpFires) Integrated Weapon System project to develop a hypersonic mobile ground-launched tactical weapon able to deliver a variety of payloads to several different ranges.

The project is a three-phase effort that consists of weapon system preliminary design, critical design, and flight testing. Last October DARPA awarded a $9.5 million contract to Sierra Nevada Corp. in Sparks, Nev., to develop an OpFires hypersonic propulsion system.

DARPA officials are pursuing the OpFires project to compensate for limitations of U.S. ground forces in the effective range of surface-to-surface precision fires. OpFires seeks to provide theater level commanders with the ability to strike time-sensitive targets while providing persistent standoff from enemy counter-fire.

The OpFires solicitation released this week focuses on a hypersonic mobile, ground-launched system design, and flight test, including mobile ground launcher and all-up round. The contractor selected also will integrate the Sierra Nevada propulsion system into the final design. Flight demonstrations should be in 2022.

The OpFires prototype is not expected to meet all potential operational requirements, but will demonstrate critical system attributes, technologies, and functionality.

This project also will identify and develop critical enabling technologies and components such as weapon command and control; booster thermal management; component technologies; launcher simulations; missile guidance, navigation and control simulations; and system safety.

The U.S. military M870 tri-axle trailer and Marine Corps logistic vehicle system replacement are suitable mobile launch platforms, but other launch systems could be considered, DARPA officials say.
 

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DARPA seeks to develop a ground-launched hypersonic weapon to attack time-sensitive relocatable targets
Industry asked to integrate hypersonic weapon, propulsion, and control to enable ground forces to attack mobile ballistic missiles before they launch.
Author John Keller
08 June, 2019

View attachment 7695

U.S. military researchers are asking industry to find a way to attack enemy time-sensitive relocatable targets like mobile ballistic missiles with hypersonic ground-launched rocket-propelled smart munitions that can penetrate modern air defense systems.

Officials of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., issued a solicitation Wednesday for the Operational Fires (OpFires) Integrated Weapon System project to develop a hypersonic mobile ground-launched tactical weapon able to deliver a variety of payloads to several different ranges.

The project is a three-phase effort that consists of weapon system preliminary design, critical design, and flight testing. Last October DARPA awarded a $9.5 million contract to Sierra Nevada Corp. in Sparks, Nev., to develop an OpFires hypersonic propulsion system.

DARPA officials are pursuing the OpFires project to compensate for limitations of U.S. ground forces in the effective range of surface-to-surface precision fires. OpFires seeks to provide theater level commanders with the ability to strike time-sensitive targets while providing persistent standoff from enemy counter-fire.

The OpFires solicitation released this week focuses on a hypersonic mobile, ground-launched system design, and flight test, including mobile ground launcher and all-up round. The contractor selected also will integrate the Sierra Nevada propulsion system into the final design. Flight demonstrations should be in 2022.

The OpFires prototype is not expected to meet all potential operational requirements, but will demonstrate critical system attributes, technologies, and functionality.

This project also will identify and develop critical enabling technologies and components such as weapon command and control; booster thermal management; component technologies; launcher simulations; missile guidance, navigation and control simulations; and system safety.

The U.S. military M870 tri-axle trailer and Marine Corps logistic vehicle system replacement are suitable mobile launch platforms, but other launch systems could be considered, DARPA officials say.
 

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DARPA preparing to test fly two hypersonic weapons
Ashley Roque, Washington, DC
03 May 2019
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DARPA and the USAF are planning to test fly the TBG and the HAWC this year. Source: DARPA

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is eyeing flight tests later this year for two hypersonic weapons, and it is teaming up with the US Army on developing such a ground-launched capability. However, at the same time, army leaders are drafting plans to consolidate duelling lines of effort within their hypersonic weapons' portfolio.

During a 1 May Defense Writers' Group breakfast with reporters, DARPA Director Dr Steven Walker fielded questions about ongoing projects inside the Pentagon's research arm including the development of two hypersonic weapons with the US Air Force (USAF) - the Tactical Boost Glide (TBG) and the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC).

"[They are] two very different concepts but when you're talking hypersonic [weapons], it is good to have what I consider intended redundancy because it's a hard technology, making materials and propulsion systems that last in 3,000° Fahrenheit temperatures is not easy," Walker said.

The military envisions developing TBG as an air-launched rocket with speeds faster than Mach 5 and able to reach altitudes of nearly 200,000 ft. The HAWC is also designed to be air launched but is envisioned as a hypersonic cruise missile.

By the end of 2019, DARPA plans to flight test both weapons off a B-52 bomber. However, if qualifying challenges occur, Walker said the tests could extend into the early 2020 time frame.

"The bottom line is it is going to happen within a year from now and I think I'll keep my fingers crossed for having some good success stories coming," he added.

In addition to working with the USAF on TBG and HAWC, DARPA has partnered with the US Army on the Operational Fires (OpFires) development programme that is essentially a ground-launched capability with the TBG "front end", Walker explained. As part of the effort, the agency and army have awarded three companies with

Phase 1 base effort contracts, which include booster preliminary design and proof of concept testing to demonstrate key elements of the propulsion system.

 

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U.S Army prepares to test hypersonic weapon in 2020
Officials said they plan to field the hypersonic weapon by 2023, and that they also expect to field the first combat vehicles with lasers on them in 2022.
By Ed Adamczyk
June 5, 2019
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Tests of a hypersonic weapon will begin in 2020, the Army announced this week. Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command

June 5 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army announced it will test a hypersonic weapon in 2020.

In addition to the hypersonic weapon, the Army plans to field combat vehicles with 50-kilowatt lasers on them sometime in 2022, Pentagon officials told reporters on June 4.

Thurgood announced on Tuesday that RCCTO will also field a four-vehicle battery of Stryker combat vehicles with 50-kilowatt laser weapons by 2022.

The hypersonic weapon -- the term denotes a speed many times that of sound but typically it refers to Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound or higher -- involves a "glide body" launched from a 30-foot device, called a transporter erector launcher, carried by four tactical trucks. The glide body is under development at the Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico.

The weapon is "the first shoot ever off of the transporter erector launcher," Lt. Gen. Neil Thurgood of the Army's Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office said on May 23. "It will be done by soldiers. The reason we're going to do that is because we need them to start training. We need to get this equipment in the hands of soldiers quickly to learn."

The RCCTO oversees the Army's development of hypersonic, directed energy and space weapons. It is based at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., with an office in the Pentagon.

While the weapon will be produced and tested by the Army, it will also be used by the Air Force and Navy. It is part of a $1.2 billion program to be spent by 2024 on experimental prototyping of the weapon.

The program lays the groundwork for a new triad of conventional hypersonic strike weapons to arm the military services with a common hypersonic glide body, equipped with rockets tailored to launch from specific platforms. It would comprise a new class of maneuverable weapons across the U.S. military, officials say.

Essentially an exceedingly fast missile fired from a cannon, it could potentially strike enemy targets thousands of miles away.

 

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Kh-47M2 Kinzhal Russian Hypersonic Missile
08 June 2019
Eagle1

View attachment 7700
Kh-47M2 Kinzhal test missile on a Mig 31K above, and a Tu-22M3 long range bomber below


View attachment 7699
Kh-47M2 Kinzhal test missile on a Mig 31

Quick Facts

Russian/ NATO DesignationKh-47M2 Kinzhal / Dagger
Role and MobilityDeterrence Against NATO - Air-Mobile
Range2,000 km to 3,000 km depending on Delivery aircraft
Warhead Type and WeightNuclear or Conventional. Upto 480 kg
Guidance System / AccuracyInertial Guidance and Satellite Navigation with a Terminal Seeker;
Circular Error Probable (CEP) 1-2m
Stages / PropellantOne / Solid
SpeedMach 10 Confirmed, Mach 12 Reported.
Initial Operating Capability2017
StatusOperational
Aircrafts known to be deployed fromMig31 & Tu22M3

 

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Kh-47M2 Kinzhal Russian Hypersonic Missile
08 June 2019
Eagle1

View attachment 7700
Kh-47M2 Kinzhal test missile on a Mig 31K above, and a Tu-22M3 long range bomber below


View attachment 7699
Kh-47M2 Kinzhal test missile on a Mig 31

Quick Facts

Russian/ NATO DesignationKh-47M2 Kinzhal / Dagger
Role and MobilityDeterrence Against NATO - Air-Mobile
Range2,000 km to 3,000 km depending on Delivery aircraft
Warhead Type and WeightNuclear or Conventional. Upto 480 kg
Guidance System / AccuracyInertial Guidance and Satellite Navigation with a Terminal Seeker;
Circular Error Probable (CEP) 1-2m
Stages / PropellantOne / Solid
SpeedMach 10 Confirmed, Mach 12 Reported.
Initial Operating Capability2017
StatusOperational
Aircrafts known to be deployed fromMig31 & Tu22M3

 

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Air Force tests hypersonic weapon aboard B-52 for first time
June 14, 2019

A sensor-only prototype of the AGM-183A air launched rapid response weapon was carried externally by a B-52 to gather environmental and aircraft handling data as the ARRW is developed.
View attachment 8045
This is an artist's conception of a hypersonic missile during its launch phase. Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin

June 14 (UPI) -- For the first time, the U.S. Air Force successfully tested its hypersonic air-to-ground weapon on a B-52H Stratofortress bomber from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

On Wednesday, a sensor-only prototype of the AGM-183A air launched rapid response weapon, or ARRW, was carried externally by a B-52 during the test to gather environmental and aircraft handling data, the U.S. Air Force said Thursday in a news release.

Hypersonic denotes a speed of Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound or higher.

The missile prototype didn't have explosives and it was not released from the B-52 during the flight test. The Air Force did not release images of the AGM-183A.

Data were gathered on drag and vibration impacts on the weapon itself as well as the external carriage equipment of the aircraft. This type of data is required for all Air Force weapon systems undergoing development.

"We're using the rapid prototyping authorities provided by Congress to quickly bring hypersonic weapon capabilities to the warfighter," said Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. "We set out an aggressive schedule with ARRW. Getting to this flight test on time highlights the amazing work of our acquisition workforce and our partnership with Lockheed Martin and other industry partners."

The ARRW is set to reach early operational capability by fiscal year 2022. Another rapid prototyping system is also being developed, the hypersonic conventional strike weapon, or HCSW. On top of this, the Air Force also is developing the hypersonic air-breathing weapon concept, or HAWC.

The B-52 will launch all three platforms.

"This type of speed in our acquisition system is essential -- it allows us to field capabilities rapidly to compete against the threats we face," Roper said.

Russia and China have also been developing hypersonic weapons, which has led the Pentagon to speed development of the munitions -- more than $1.2 billion has been earmarked through 2024 on experimental hypersonic prototypes of the weapon for the Air Force, as well as the Army and Navy.

The Drive reported the ARRW is likely an evolution of the Defense Advanced Research Project's Agency's Tactical Boost Glide effort.

In August 2018, Lockheed Martin was awarded a contract worth up to $480 million to begin designing the AGM-183A.

Then last November, Lockheed received another contract, valued at $928 million, for critical design review, test and production readiness support to facilitate fielded prototypes of the HCSW.

Last November, DARPA released proposals for the development of Glide Breaker, which is designed to intercept the hypersonic vehicles of other nations.

Raytheon in March was awarded a $63.3 million contract to further develop the tactical boost glide hypersonic weapons program, which includes the payload separating from the rocket and glides unpowered to its destination.

In 2016, Raytheon was awarded a $174 million contract for the United States for the hypersonic air-breathing weapon concept program.

The Army also plans to field combat vehicles with 50 kilowatt lasers on them sometime in 2022, Pentagon officials told reporters on June 4.

 

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Raytheon, Northrop Grumman partner on hypersonic missile system
The pair will be working together to use the scramjet engine, which Northrop Grumman is constructing entirely out of 3D-printed parts.
By Allen Cone

June 18, 2019


View attachment 8294
This is an artist's rendering of air-breathing hypersonic weapon being developed by Northrop Grumman and Raytheon for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Photo courtesy of Raytheon/Northrop Grumman

June 18 (UPI) -- Northrop Grumman will develop, produce and integrate scramjet combustors to power Raytheon's air-breathing hypersonic weapons, the two companies said in announcing a teaming agreement.

The two companies in a joint news release Tuesday said they will work together to accelerate the "development and demonstrate readiness to produce the next generation of tactical missile systems."

Scramjet is short for supersonic combustion ramjet. The engines use high vehicle speed to forcibly compress incoming air before combustion to enable sustained flight at hypersonic speeds -- in excess of Mach 5, or 3,800 miles an hour.

These hypersonic speeds reduce flight times and increase weapon survivability, effectiveness and flexibility, according to the companies.

"The Raytheon/Northrop Grumman team is quickly developing air-breathing hypersonic weapons to keep our nation ahead of the threat," said Dr. Thomas Bussing, vice president of Raytheon Advanced Missile Systems. "This agreement combines Raytheon's decades of tactical missile expertise with Northrop Grumman's extensive scramjet engine development experience to produce the best possible weapons."

Northrop Grumman and Raytheon have a $200 million contract for the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept, or HAWC, with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and U.S. Air Force.

"This teaming agreement extends our strong partnership with Raytheon on this critical technology capability," said Mike Kahn, vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman's Defense Systems. "Our deep heritage in propulsion, fuzes and warheads will help accelerate readiness of tomorrow's missiles to meet range, survivability, safety and lethality requirements."

Raytheon is working with Lockheed Martin on a competing hypersonic propulsion system called boost glide. These weapons, including the AGM-183 ARRW -- or Arrow -- are boosted to near-space by ballistic missiles and then glide to their target at high speeds. For the first time, the U.S. Air Force last week successfully tested the hypersonic air-to-ground weapon on a B-52H Stratofortress bomber from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

Raytheon and Northrop are ready to make their first flight on the air-breathing system, Bussing said.

"We have a flight test planned for the near future where we will begin flying this particular class of weapon system," he said during a briefing at the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget. The companies have already conducted "significant" ground tests, Bussing said.

All of the scramjet is 3D-printed using advanced materials, said John Wilcox, the company's vice president of advanced programs and technology.

"There gets to be points where you have to weld additive manufactured parts, but right now even the full combustor [is printed]," he said. "We think we're the first to ever 3D print a full combuster for an air-breathing scramjet engine. That's what's going to drive the affordability for air-breathing scramjet missiles."

The weapons are meant to meet the reported development of hypersonic weapons by other nations, specifically Russia and China.

 

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Navy eyes new launchers on stalwart destroyers for putting hypersonics afloat
By: David B. Larter
30 June 2019

View attachment 8678
Sailors remove an expended canister from the destroyer’s vertical launch system on board the destroyer Benfold. The Navy is eyeing swapping out launchers on its DDGs to accommodate hypersonic missiles. (U.S. Navy photo by MC3 Jason Amadi)


WASHINGTON – With bigger, faster missiles in development and bound for the fleet, the Navy’s engineers are eyeing back-fitting upgraded launchers on its stalwart Arleigh Burke destroyers.

The head of Naval Sea Systems Command, Vice Adm. Thomas Moore, told an audience at a conference of naval engineers that the destroyers, because of the vertical launch system and Aegis, the ships were easier to keep relevant than previous destroyers such as the Adams class and the Spruance class. Still, with the service attempting to keep the ships longer, new launcher may be in order to pace the threat from Russia and China, which have been developing hypersonic weapons.

“Vertical launch system has been a real game-changer for us. We can shoot any number of things out of those launchers,” he said. “We’ll probably change those out and upgrade them for prompt strike weapons down the road.”


Putting hypersonic weapons on surface ships would greatly increase the effectiveness of its strike capabilities. The current main strike weapon, the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile, is a subsonic missile and is vulnerable to ever-more advanced Russian and Chinese air defenses.

Prompt strike, which refers to a Department of Defense-wide effort to field hypersonic weapons to quickly strike anywhere in the world, are most likely coming first to submarines, said Thomas Callender, a retired submarine officer and analyst with the Heritage Foundation. Because subs are stealthy and can sneak in closer to land undetected more easily than a surface ship, they make the most sense.

“They’re looking at putting hypersonics on submarines first because where you can get access,” Callender said. “You can potentially then put them on surface ships as an added capability for them but the submarines would be the priority for access and the ranges you can achieve.”

The Navy is designing a new large surface combatant to replace the cruisers and ultimately the destroyers with larger missiles in mind. As a result, the ship may be fairly large, former Surface Warfare Director Rear Adm. Ron Boxall told Defense News last year.


The benefit of larger vertical launch cells is that you can pack more missiles into each cell, if you are not using the cell for the larger hypersonic missiles, Boxall said.

“We are going to need, we expect, space for longer range missiles,” he said. They are going to be bigger. So, the idea that you could make a bigger cell, even if you don’t use it for one big missile, you could use it for multiple missiles — quad-pack, eight-pack, whatever.”

The missiles that would go into a larger launcher are still very much under development.

The Navy is teamed with the Army to develop a booster for a hypersonic missile and the Army is leading a team with the Navy and Air Force to internally build a common glide body and make it producible on a larger scale.

Radar Upgrades
NAVSEA is also examining back-fitting a scaled-down version of the Air and Missile Defense Radar, AN/SPY-6, being developed for the Flight III DDG. The scope of that project, however, remains to be determined.

“We are looking at a scaled-back version of the Air and Missile Defense Radar to back-fit the Flight Is and Flight IIs, similar to how we are looking for a version of the [Enterprise Air Search Radar] developed for [the Ford-class aircraft carriers] to back-fit on some of the old Nimitz-class,” Moore said.

“I’m not sure how many ships it is going to go on, we’re still doing the design work. It’s a fairly significant change to the structure of the ship, AMDR versus Spy.”

The purpose of the upgrade would be used to track the faster, more dynamic missiles being developed by Russia and China.

The array is a smaller version of the SPY-6 intended for the Flight III DDG, the first of which is now under construction at Huntington Ingalls Industries. The SPY-6 destined for DDG-125 will have 37 of what are known as radar modular assemblies, or RMA, which are 2-foot-by-2-foot-by-2-foot boxes that use gallium nitride technology to direct radar energy on air targets. The Flight IIA version will have 24 RMAs in the array.

A version of the radar planned for the FFG(X) future frigate is a nine-RMA configuration.

The Navy is aiming to upgrade all of its DDGs to Aegis Baseline 9 or higher with a ballistic missile defense capability and extend the service lives to 45 years as part of an effort to grow the fleet.

But the Navy is going to try to get 50 years out of its Flight IIA ships. The IIAs make up the bulk of the DDG fleet, with 46 total planned for the service — DDG-79 through DDG-124. DDG-127 will also be a Flight IIA.

That upgraded SPY-6 will be far easier to maintain than the current SPY-1D. Raytheon claims the radar can be maintained by simply removing an RMA and switching it out with a new one, with the rest of the work performed off-site.

 

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